Enjoy a look inside Their Worlds, Your Words with these excerpts from each chapter.

Chapter One – Getting into your client’s world

The first step to creating effective session content is building the right relationship with your client. Rapport is the word often used to describe this relationship. Rapport is made up of elements like compatibility, trust and emotional affinity.

We sometimes say we are ‘in rapport with’ friends, family and others that we feel close to or confide in. But this usually comes about over time through two-way communication: shared confidences, experiences, feelings and values. In therapy, rapport has to come from a different place because you don’t have this kind of interaction with clients.

Your clients’ experiences and feelings, even values, may be completely different from yours. And yet they need to feel that they can safely share personal information with you, and talk about difficult experiences or emotions without you being shocked or judgemental. They may not have revealed some of these things to anyone else before or even admitted them to themselves. This requires you to build a deep level of trust – rapport – quickly and effectively.

Chapter Two – Exploring your client’s world

In a therapeutic setting, clean language doesn’t mean not swearing. (Although you should probably keep your language reasonably clean in that sense too). Using clean language means avoiding leading questions – those that suggest a specific answer.

For example, asking your client ‘Do you feel anxious when that happens?’ would probably lead them to say ‘yes’ as long as anxiety was somewhere in the right area. But asking specifically about anxiety reflects what we think the client feels, instead of letting them tell us about it.

When we’re trying to get right into the client’s world and see things from their point of view, we need their own descriptors.

Chapter Three – Changing your client’s world

Clients come to you because there is something in their world they want to change. Some already know what the answer is. A weight control client, for example, may be aware that eating less and exercising more will get them to their ideal healthy body weight, but they need your help to achieve that. Other clients have little or no idea what will work for them. Then you’ll need to help them identify the right solutions as well as to put them in place.

Either way, your job is not to have a series of ‘off the shelf’ answers at your fingertips. Just as your client’s worlds are different, their solutions may be too. Your role is one of facilitation and empowerment, rather than manipulation and control. The goal of really effective therapy is finding the changes that are helpful – and practical – for each individual client.

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Chapter Four – Working with words

Many therapists begin by using therapeutic scripts from books and websites. It’s a good way to tap into hypnotic language and to get ideas from more experienced therapists. Unfortunately, one of the big problems is that they do not reflect your client’s world except in very general terms. Imagine a client who wants to quit smoking because she is planning to start a family. Few, if any, ‘quit smoking’ scripts include that as a motivator. They are forced to concentrate on what smoking clients have in common, rather than on what makes them unique.

It’s all very well to say ‘adapt them’, but many look complete. Or they have an internal flow and logic so it’s not always easy to see how this can be done. What we’re going to look at in this chapter is a way to approach that adaptation process.

Chapter Five – Words and stories

We have been talking about suggestions: how to construct them and how to use them in your hypnotherapy sessions. In this part of the book, we are going to consider a slightly different approach.

We all love stories; as children, listening to, reading or watching stories is one of our favourite things to do. We like fairy stories, stories about our families and our parents when they were young. All kinds of things help us relate to our social and physical environment. When you work with metaphors, you are essentially telling your clients a story. Just like stories, metaphors can draw us into them, provoking strong emotional responses. They appeal to that part of our unconscious mind which is still childlike and enjoys learning in this way.

Chapter Six – When worlds collide

True, the chapter title is a little exaggerated. But having spent a lot of time considering your client’s world, you need to consider the impact of your own. You do not provide therapy in a vacuum, any more than your client seeks it that way. Events in your own life will make you feel tired, happy, sad, energised, worried, excited, and so on.

Ideally, of course, these things are left outside your therapy room door when you go into ‘work mode’. If you have a lot going on and think you can’t do this it’s often best not to practise for a while, or at least not to see clients with issues that mirror your own.

Even smaller events can have an impact on your ability to get fully into your client’s world. It’s why looking after yourself as well as your clients is so important. In this final chapter, we are going to have a look at a few ideas which will help you do just that.

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